Orwell on Writing and Thinking

If people cannot write well, they cannot think well, and if they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them.

–George Orwell

By Barnard Law Collier

When I introduce writing to a young person, I recite the George Orwell quote and most quickly grasp the point.

Good writing is a sign of power because the good writing is the transcription of good thinking and good writing is powerful because it does not easily die.

Writing well thus begins with thinking well, and as one 12-year-old asked, “Why don’t we have thinking classes in school?”

Some good schools do, including home schools. Far too many make little effort to instruct students on how thinking works and best thinking methods.

When writing is required, most of what is written merely indicates the writer knows how to compile words in a grammatical way.

Thinking well is the difference between those who mimic and those who succeed, between those who scrawl on walls and those who etch words into immortality.

It is often a good idea to ask children to write about thinking rather than to think about writing.

They will often express clearly in writing several ideas about thinking you may never have thought of.

On my planet, Thinking 101 begins before any classes in reading, penmanship, or spelling, and continues through elementary school.

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